A Whirlwind…A Heart in the Sand & Back to Ordinary Life!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Whew, what a whirlwind of activity over the past couple of months (original post early summer 2012):  Jake graduated high school (and he accompanied me on a business trip to Wisconsin to celebrate).  Arin turned 16 (and bought a green Jetta shortly thereafter). The newest edition to our family – Alaska, a white kitten – got fixed. Nick celebrated Pride 2012 (his dance performance on the main stage was impressive!) Randy finished out another school year, had a month’s worth of conferences (and claims he never nodded off!) and is now into riding his bike all over town. My business is doing well and I’m continuing with step aerobics and boot camp. So, definitely, having some sort of order in my life is helpful after a whirlwind of activity! 

Life Goes Really Fast

 As a blogger (first post was on 11-21-11), a mother (of three, oldest 23, middle 17 and youngest 16), a wife (in August we’ll be married 22 years), a pet owner (3 cats, 1 dog, 1 rabbit, 1 guinea pig and 1 fish and 1 hedgehog), some of these critters belong to the kids….and a self-employed person (since 9-99), each week goes by quickly.  This is my “ordinary life”. Often I want to do nothing.  Like hang out at Saylorville, stare at the lake, float on my back in the water, play in the sand or laugh at our dog Bella as she frolics through the waves. 

A Heart in the Sand

I’ve been getting quite a few readers! Thank you.  I do enjoy writing. So moving forward with blogging, I’m planning to continue on with my earlier blogs about my days at Iowa State (so I can move through my days at Drake University – aka clean office, go through paperwork, recycle….) and get to the present, all with sprinkling in some fun and excitement and educate my readers on who I am and what I do!

Hope you’re enjoying your summer…and especially your world of work.


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.


My Dad’s Work…And Retirement!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Continuing on from my post on Father’s Day about my father Dick Prochnow, and his work….

After he was fired in 1993, even though the situation clearly was not warranted, came out of the blue, and was unjustified, dad didn’t falter.  Shortly thereafter, he applied for work at a local construction company and was hired as a laborer on a crew.  “I packed my lunch bucket and rode my bike to the worksite.  Dad’s boss at this time was about 20 years younger.  Dad (he was 60 then) did this work for three months until his next employer offered him a position.

“I did concrete work, put up metal buildings, cleaned up the messes, whatever the boss needed me to do.”

Dad was hired as a route driver for Hiland Potato Chip Company later in the year.  He was responsible to market products, increase sales, and make delivery runs to retail customers.  He set up displays and rotated products.  He took orders, tracked sales and inventory, and handled customer relations.  And, of course, he brought in new accounts.  Dad had a storage unit to house inventory and the box truck. Dick worked for “The Chippiest Chips Around” company for a year.

“I liked the freedom this job offered.”

Then John, who owned the Culligan dealership in Fort Dodge, hired him on May 1, 1994. Dad drove from Iowa Falls to Fort Dodge and back every day and worked as a service manager.  His job involved scheduling and coordinating the work for himself and two workers.  Dad did service work, installations, and delivered water softener tanks, salt and equipment to customers.  This job involved extensive customer service skills.

One important detail that I didn’t write about in last week’s post was the fact that the tanks weighed 80-160 pounds.  A dolly or a sling was used to move them, which often included maneuvering the tanks down a flight of steps into a customer’s basement.  Nowadays the tanks are about half the weight (which leads me to another topic for a future blog – lifting and  accommodations.)

At age 65, dad retired.  Party!

Dad also, for about 5 years during the earlier years of working for Culligan in Iowa Falls, held a weekend job.  He delivered The Des Moines Sunday Register to rural customers throughout Hardin County.  In early pre-dawn hours, dad picked up between 10-12 bundles of newspaper (20 newspaper per bundle) at the local convenience store,  KerrMcGee (Kum & Go), loaded his front seat and the truck bed; and off he went driving his white Chevy Luv Truck.

The “Luv” Truck had a ton of miles on it!

If you click on the link for Kum &Go, I’ve posted Tony Gentle’s obituary. It’s a good read, titled Gentle’s Career of Hard Work. He was a great support of Iowa Falls, and of course founder of Kum & Go (Iowa Falls was home to the first “KerrMcGee” – what it was called back then.  Tony was one of my dad’s work references.

This job involved major league stamina.  I filled in once or so for him, and I have no idea how he could get up so early on a Sunday morning, drive all over the country to deliver Sunday papers.  The skills with this job include, of course, driving, along with mapping, time management, customer service, counting and delivery.   It was, of course, dark.  The gravel roads could lead anywhere.  But Dad knew what he was doing.

Even when it came to which dog’s bark was way worse than any bite.

You know, all this time Ann was working too.  On to my mom and her career in another post!  A side note, dad, how did you work all through the night and still stay awake for Sunday morning mass?  Or were you faking it? No, not with your snoring capacity.

Have a great week!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people find a place in the workforce.




My Dad and His Work. Happy Fathers Day!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When I was growing up my dad, Dick Prochnow, continued his career with Culligan Soft Water that began in 1959 in Northbrook, Illinois.  Here’s the link to my original post on How did I get into Rehab Counseling?

Dad started as a material handler in the plant, doing prepackaging as well as painting work, and supervising a half-dozen workers.  He received a promotion and in 1968, started his work as the branch manager of Culligan in Iowa Falls.

1953 Ad for Culligan Soft Water

My dad was in charge of daily operations at Culligan when it was located on Main and Railroad overlooking the Iowa River.  I remember watching dad work in the office one minute and the next he was out working in the plant. He moved around and handled many responsibilities.

Dad was involved in planning, directing and coordinating the operations of this small business. He formulated policies, planned the use of materials and human resources and made purchasing decisions.  He hired, trained, and yes, fired people.  He made marketing, sales and delivery calls.  He did any work that the workers he hired did, and more. He responded to customer complaints, including those coming in the middle of the night or on weekends that required repairing softening units.

Hey Culligan Man!

Dad hired 7 guys who delivered the softeners and the salt to residential and commercial customers.  He had a full-time secretary and a part-time office worker.  For a time, my brothers (Mike and Steve) worked for him.  I cleaned the bathroom, and sucked on the sugar cubes set out for coffee (not at the same time UGGG.) I also remember the pop machine!

Sucking on the Sugar Cubes – A Fond Memory

I remember the interesting smells, sights and sounds of water being regenerated. I remember the brine pit – scary.  Being waay down under the ground, it was dark.  The only way in or out was the built in ladder. It smelled strange.  I also remember walking in the plant area, on the grates over the water, around the long lines of water tanks.  The huge trucks were parked inside the plant.  And the big workers, how they could move numerous tanks and 50# bags of salt onto their trucks, and off they went to deliver.

Dad is very skilled!

 And talented!

Dad has many skills and can use a variety of hand tools and power equipment. He’s pretty good with money and figures too.  And he has a way with human relations.  He can smooze the higher ups and bring in the customers.  “I liked the people the best.”  He can go from wearing his blue uniform to a suit and look just as handsome.

Dad worked for Culligan in Iowa Falls until the day they canned him.  As he put it “they left me”.  This was 25 years into his career in Iowa Falls.  I don’t know the details, something with a change in ownership of the company and corporate relations that led to the firing. Jerks.

More to come…because change (along with hard work) is good. My hat is off to my wonderful and talented and handsome dad!

Happy Father’s Day!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Graduations, Birthdays, Holidays, Weddings, and Career Counseling, Oh My!

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Originally Published on: May 28, 2012

This is such a busy time of the year for everyone! Yesterday my family celebrated Jacob’s high school graduation. It was a very nice ceremony held at the Knapp Center on Drake’s campus. So much diversity at North High!  So many happy families! And the band and chorus were fantastic!

A Happy Grad

I’m looking at some of Jake’s school paperwork, which includes his report card and transcript. Wow! That’s a lot of work!  Jake did really well in Aquarium Science, Psychology, and Economics.  Okay, being a vocational counselor that I am, I honestly can’t figure out where those three courses could tie together.  Let me think…..

One Spoiled Clown Fish

Career counseling the owner of a clown fish who spent too much on the aquarium set up. Sure.

That aside, where can Jake find a like he likes that includes fish, studying the mind and behavior of said fish, and using goods and resources efficiently?

How about animal caretaker? Where can a position like this be found in Jake’s labor market? What are some titles of a job like this? What are some of the employers in the market who hire for jobs likes this? What are the physical requirements of a job like this? Can a job potentially be accommodated if need be? How much does the work pay? What does the future look like for this job? ….. on and on Me and My Questions! 

I’d have to do a labor market survey, question workers in the field, look up statistics and perform other research related to accommodations and more. Sounds fun to me! Oh, and then write a report about my findings, results and recommendations for Jake (if that’s really what he wanted to do for work at this time in his life.) 

And next up, my beautiful daughter Arin is celebrating a big day today!  Happy Birthday Sweet 16!  She’s been car shopping!

Nice Ride, and I just noticed Texas Plates!

Happy Memorial Day.  Have a great day and be safe! I have some weddings to go to next month!  I love going to weddings…free food!

What have you been up to? Would you like my help in helping your client with their vocational future? Contact me to discuss your case! Thank you for reading my blog!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Creatively Looking at Creativity! And Gaining Valuable Skills to Boot!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Originally Published on: May 21, 2012

I’d like to take a creative look at creativity. Have you ever created anything new that added value and a way to gain valuable skills?  Sure you have!

Drawing pictures, writing for a magazine (I’m a freelance writer for Women’s Edition), garden or silk flower arranging, painting an old milk can, sewing a bunch of buttons on your jeans, knitting a really long chain out of yarn, crocheting a baby blanket, baking secret cupcakes, sculpting your hair, story-telling in the dark, cracking jokes before breakfast, rebuilding an old tractor engine, building a swing out of an old tire, designing a user friendly website, starting a small business in your basement, singing a self-written song, designing a voice activated door opener (I so want to do this!), creating a mural with sidewalk chalk in your driveway, mowing strange shapes into your lawn, and on and on and on……is simply put, a fun way to learn and gain valuable skills.

 There is so much going on in your mind when you’re creating!

I believe it is important to ask my clients about their hobbies and interests.  The wonderful attributes of a person’s inner workings help me to identify their transferable skills beyond the basic ones found from their work background.

My son Jake, who graduates on Sunday from high school, has always loved to draw. Yes, he’s gotten into a bit of trouble at school for choosing to draw rather than do his school work. Oh well. His mind (and hands) simply love to draw. And I find him to be quite talented! Here’s a sample:


From a vocational perspective, I’ve told Jake I believe he would excel at work that uses Computer Aided Design. And I recommend he check out colleges that offer CAD (read DMACC!)

I’m fascinated by the work of a CAD Designer. CAD ~ Computer Aided Design has revolutionized how people draw and design things.  Speed, efficiency, communication, and revisions are performed very quickly. People are using CAD to draw virtually anything in 3D, and there are many software products available, and more to come I’m sure.

CAD is used to create machines, products, components, floor plans, animation, special effects, advertising, technical manuals, and on and on once again. And even mammography (but it still squeezes the heck out of you.) I think it’s cool that trucking companies use CAD to load their trailers efficiently. I’d like to use it to organize my freezer.

However, I think CAD projects still need to be in tune with the human emotional content seen in hand drawings.  Here’s another sample of Jake’s drawings:

Link from Legend of Zelda

Jacob will come home from school and show me his latest creations. He doesn’t leave home without a sketch pad! I wonder if he realizes how much he’s really using geometry, spatial relations, visual acuity, fine motor skills, eye-hand connection, attention to detail, and many a good pencil eraser (which crumbles all over the place!) to practice and refine his drawing methodology.  And just as important, he exhibits patience and stamina throughout the process!

Jacob can draw anything he’s observed. And he can draw from memory.  For Mother’s Day, he and Arin designed a card for me.  Jacob was in charge of the artwork, Arin the writing.  I loved it!  Using his skill set, Jacob drew each of our pets from memory.  He added each of their unique personalities with a twist of the pencil.  Jake sees contour, edges, sizes, angles, lines, proportions, shading, shades, gestures, color, patterns, textures……and is able to recreate images to a T. Or better yet, he creates his own images into whatever letter he chooses!

Ram Head (a re-creation from a framed print I’ve had since the 60s)

Jacob has many transferable skills (as do most of my placement clients and for that matter most any person who has a solid work history)!   Transferable skills are accomplishments and understandings an individual has developed in various situations that can be used in many other situations.  Very simply explained, transferable skills are those versatile skills that you can apply and make use of in many situations and roles.

In a future blog, I’ll write about transferable skills.  In the meantime, tell me how you were creative today.  What’d you do?  What are your interests and hobbies? And tell me, would you like me to help you help your client with their vocational future? I’m here to help attorneys help their clients. Contact me today!


My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.





Childhood Interests Can Help You Find the Right Career

Reading Time: 1 minute

Take a little time to think about your early interests in life while watching this eye opening You Tube video ~ Childhood Interests Can Help You Find the Right Career which portrays a powerful connection between childhood interests and your career.


The first business I started in my youth was a baby sitting service (not just being a sitter, it was a service)!  I recruited help from my neighborhood friends and we worked as a team to provide “having fun while caring for your children” services to customers.  We called our team “The Sheiks” but I can’t remember why we used that name. Could be because we played a lot of dress up and had a lot of shows, mostly in the street for all to come and watch us perform!

Basically, I have been an entrepreneur ever since!

Let me know how I might help you or your client find the right career.



My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.